Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Loire Dining on the Salt Route

For centuries in France the River Loire has been the route of important trade exchanges and goods transported on the river included hemp, limestone (tuffeau), slate, wine, and of course saltThe boats that were built to transport the goods included barges of all kinds, flatbottomed river boats, wine and salt barges, sand dredgers, ferry and steamboats.
These days in Le Thoureil you will find many modern day examples of the old boats that used to sail the Loire from simple flat bottomed barques to the futreau with it's square sail and the covered toue cabanees. Used for fishing, sight seeing or pleasure you will find these boats dotted along the the quay. You will also find La Route du Sel, a great restaurant and wine bar that has recently changed ownership.
Taken over by Marie Monmousseau and Daniel Eastcott, we believe it is going to be well frequented this Summer. Marie is a talented and creative chef having worked at Le Muerice in Paris and Locatelli's in London so expect inventive cuisine with a modern twist.
As a big pasta fan I couldn't resist the tagliatelli made with a chestnut flour and served with winter vegetables and shaved parmesan. Great for vegetarians too as there is plenty of choice from both the starters and the mains. For those who prefer their meat dishes there is everything to choose from Duck, Veal, Poulet, Beef even a Chou Farci - cabbage stuffed with veal, cepes, chestnuts and foie gras. Fish gets a great showing too and here Marie has a Loire speciality Anguille de Loire fumée served with egg, horseradish & creme fraiche.

It was hard to part a spoonful of Sue's 'Gateau de Marie' away from her to taste. A light and extremely delicious chocolate fondant served with a confiture de lait and grilled sesame seeds. The Crémet du Thoureil was equally delicious, a fromage frais served with meringue and red fruits that was neither too sharp or nor sweet - just perfect!

We'll talk about Daniel's fabulous wine list in a later post but let's just say he is an excellent host and has a great knowledge of the wines of the Loire region. So if you are hoping to try Nicolas Reau's Grande Cuvée L'Enfant Terrible or sample a chilled glass of Bouvet Ladubay's Crémant de Loire Cuvée Excellence whilst the sun goes down and the hot air balloons go up - then this is a great place to be. Sante !